Stains are a fact of daily life, and getting rid of them is often frustrating and time-consuming. Commercial stain removers can help speed things up, but can introduce a mix of nasty chemicals into your home.
Why would I use a natural or homemade stain remover?
Store bought stain removers are very efficient at removing stains, but they are a cocktail of chemicals which can also be harmful to your health. Think of all the everyday places that are prone to stains: your clothes, your furniture, and even your pillow. Those fabrics which get the worst stains are usually highly absorbent – meaning they will absorb the stain remover too, and any harmful substances it contains. These chemicals may stay trapped in the fabric, exposing your skin and body to them on a daily basis causing long term irritation. Common allergies caused by store bought stain removers include skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis, as well as breathing problems and asthma.
Ecostalk Top tips for Natural Stain Removal:
1. Treat the stain fast and always before washing
If you get a stain, try and treat it as soon as it appears. The fresher the stain the less time the fabric will have to absorb it, and the easier it will be to remove. Always try to treat a stain before washing it. The washing drying process tends to bake in stains, making them nearly impossible to remove later on.
2. Use a reasonable amount or bring in the experts
Most everyday stains you can easily tackle yourself with these natural stain removers. But particularly for long dried in stains or areas such as carpets or curtains, it may be worth calling in the experts. With some research you may find that many carpet cleaning companies now offer greener cleaning alternatives, and the same goes for dry cleaners. So before you go opening ten packets of salt to try and lift that two year old red wine stain, consider the amount of products and time you may use and whether this ultimately be the most eco-friendly and healthy process for your family.
3. Get an energy efficient washing machine
Not all washing machines are made equal. Your natural stain removal efforts will be in vain if your machine is using too much water and electricity. Therefore it is important to have one with the best green rating possible. Since climate change and sustainable living have become such a popular topic, some machine manufacturers have made many efforts to make their machines as efficient and resource friendly as possible, so it’s worth shopping around to get the best. If you are doing regular small loads, it may be better to hand wash or save water by washing in the shower. But for regular large loads, your machine may do a better job in managing the amount of water and effort required to keep your clothes nice and clean.
4. Keep that washing machine clean
If you are using a washing machine you can keep your clothes cleaner for longer by washing this too! Just run a quick wash without any clothing, but use around a quarter cup of baking soda and white vinegar instead of washing powder. This combination will kill germs and clean out any of the residual dirt from your previous washes.
5. Let the sunlight in
Natural sunlight is eco-friendly, free and has been used for hundreds of years as a sterilizer, a bleacher and natural stain remover. Once you have applied your natural stain remover, you can often assist the process by putting the piece of clothing or fabric out in the sun to help speed up the process. This works best for white fabrics, and for stains such as sweat and dirt where you are using a combination of a natural liquid bleach ( like hydrogen peroxide) and the bleaching abilities of sunlight to bring your clothes back to their natural white colour.
So what’s the best natural stain remover? Here are some amazing homemade natural stain remover ideas for each of those common household stains.
Best Natural Stain Removers (by Stain):
Sweat is a sneaky stain, you can wash the same shirt over and over again until one day you noticed those tell tale yellow stains. This tip is really only suitable for whites, as it does include the use of a natural bleaching agent hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide has a similar chemical compound to water, just with an extra oxygen molecule, making it H2O2.
The 3% concentrate solutions like this one are the safest for everyday use, as even though it is a natural product it is still a bleach and shouldn’t be used at higher concentrations. You can follow this guide to make up a natural stain removing paste of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, salt and vinegar which will help keep your whites nice and white.
You can of course use a natural stain remover to get rid of a natural stain like grass. Real Simple have a great little video that shows you how to use a solution of one part white vinegar and 2 parts water to remove your stain. You can use an old toothbrush to scrub the stain remover in and remove the mark.
A red wine stain can be tragic, and impossible to fully remove. The first thing is to act quickly, blot the excess wine and as Huffington Post recommends putting salt on the stain to absorb as much out of the fabric as you can.
If you have a fresh spot of grease or oil on your clothes, you can quickly lift it by putting chalk powder on the stain. Chalk powder is a great natural stain remover, leave it on overnight and it will easily absorb the excess grease out of the fabric before washing. Another option is baking soda which is another gentle but effective degreaser.
If you are trying to remove a stain from a white piece of clothing, you can use hydrogen peroxide which I explained earlier works well as a natural bleaching agent. You can even use this for cleaning white shoes, Nifty have a great video showing you how to make up this solution and putting them out in the sun afterwards to dry.If your stain isn’t on a white fabric, you can try soaking the item in a solution of white vinegar and water before washing.
Baking Soda is an amazing natural stain remover, and works particularly well on this type of stain. If this is a fresh stain, sometimes you can simply wash it out with cold water, organic soap and scrubbing. However it is set in, wet the stain and sprinkle on some baking soda around 15-20 minutes before washing. The baking soda will help break down the proteins in the stain, making it easier to come out during the washing process.
Lipstick and paint
Lipstick is oil based which is why it’s so hard to remove with water alone. The best natural stain remover for this is a small drop of diluted denatured alcohol (or methylated spirits) which will break down the oils to remove the stain. If you are worried about the fabric being too delicate for this, you can also use the reliable baking soda. You can use a similar process for removing oil based paint stains.
Ink is another really nasty stain which can be nearly irreversible. But like Lipstick you can dab the stain with diluted denatured alcohol to loosen up and remove the excess ink before throwing it in the wash. You can find more great uses for denatured alcohol here.
One last tip, always make sure that any of your natural stain removal products are stored out of the reach of children and used safely. Good luck and get cleaning!